Jarmika wrote:Do not accept any of my words on faith,
Believing them just because I said them.
Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns,
And critically examines his product for authenticity.
Only accept what passes the test
By proving useful and beneficial in your life.
Jarmika, I might direct your attention to this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi on the sutta in question which clears up in my view what is a common misunderstanding of the subject (I've even read this misunderstanding being expounded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama): http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_09.html
It basically comes down to the fact that while the audience of the discourse you quoted was not looking to undertake the Buddha's actual path to liberation, and did not see him as their guide in that way, that the Buddha gave general advice to them to help them evaluate the claims of various spiritual teachers, while in fact we see on many occasions that the Buddha does
teach confidence in him and his enlightenment experience as an important factor in future progress:
"Four conditions, Vyagghapajja, conduce to a householder's weal and happiness in his future life. Which four?
"The accomplishment of faith (saddha-sampada), the accomplishment of virtue (sila-sampada), the accomplishment of charity (caga-sampada) and the accomplishment of wisdom (pañña-sampada).
"What is the accomplishment of faith?
"Herein a householder is possessed of faith, he believes in the Enlightenment of the Perfect One (Tathagata): Thus, indeed, is that Blessed One: he is the pure one, fully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and conduct, well-gone, the knower of worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, all-knowing and blessed. This is called the accomplishment of faith.
"What is the accomplishment of virtue?
"Herein a householder abstains from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and from intoxicants that cause infatuation and heedlessness. This is called the accomplishment of virtue.
And we see that confidence in some of the major tenets of the doctrine which are expounded specifically by the Buddha as truths he realized himself during his enlightenment (past and future lives, the functioning of kamma as good and bad deeds, manifold realms of existence from heavens to hell) are to be accepted by those who place confidence in his teaching, as a crucial part of the path to liberation (Right View of the Noble Eightfold Path):
"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.
You will find this type of statement on many occasions in the suttas.
An understanding of the dynamics of the laws of kamma and rebirth that operate in the universe with relation to sentient beings are expounded to his disciples that those who place confidence in his enlightenment experience are expected to believe, for one thing so it can lead them to a fortunate rebirth, and another so they can more fully understand the dynamics of the rebirth process and ultimately escape the process altogether.